I wear many labels, labels I choose for myself to wear. One of them is Pagan. Another is Druid. And yet another is Gay. None of them define me but they do help me to explain my orientation in the world and the culture and language I use to explore this world and to connect with others. I can go to the local Pagan moot here in Galway and meet others and there I have that feeling of “you’re like me”. When I go to the OBOD assembly I have an even deeper sense of “you’re like me”. It is a wonderful thing to feel part of something bigger and to feel a commonality with others. Connecting with those “like me” from time to time, really nourishes my soul. This summer I went to Glastonbury for the 50th Anniversary gathering of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I have been a member of the Order for fourteen years. My first time going to the gathering was about seven years ago. I have been four times now and every time I go I feel more and more at home with this tribe of people.
I am a member of a Facebook group called the Gay Druid Brotherhood. It grew out of a Yahoo Group from several years ago. Several of us mentioned that we were going to the OBOD Assembly (we’re not all OBOD druids on there) and I suggested we might meet up. A few emails later and suddenly there was a “gay druids” meeting on the official timetable, sent out to all 400 attendees of the assembly, with my name on it as the organiser. This was not what I originally had in mind (especially the part about me hosting the event) but this is what happend. Life keeps suggesting ways for us to step up to the mark and be seen.
The meeting was scheduled for the Friday afternoon. A few of my gay druid friends weren’t going to be arriving in Glastonbury until the Saturday morning. On the day, I honestly expected there to be four of five of us there. I got the keys for the meeting room and the room was already laid out with 20+ chairs in a circle. I thought I should really stack some of them away so we’re not left sitting in a lonely room. However, over the next 30 minutes there were about twenty five of us sitting in circle together.
The day before the meeting, I heard a straight woman say she didn’t want this to be some sort of separatist movement, a break away order. I found the statement fascinating. Reflecting back, I really hear where she was coming from. One of the things I love about OBOD and about Paganism in general is the acceptance and openness I find towards minorities. I don’t know how much of a minority LGBT people are within the Pagan and Druid scenes. I would suspect we are not as minority as we are within broader society. And yes, there is a lot more celebration of difference within Paganism. But like anything, there is also the tendency towards homogeny. This is how “we” do it. This is what “we” believe. The duality of male/female is less of a teaching within druidry than it is in say Wicca (from what I’ve read in books). In Druidry, we tend to work with multiple dualities of age/youth, Land/Sky, wisdom/innocence, chaos/order etc. But there is still something of a hangover from generic pop paganism in the way we look at the divine, especially around the celebration of Beltane. The topic came up on its own and I loved the discussion that followed. For some of us Beltane was about Spring, for others it was about creativity and sexuality in general, for others it was about the divine masculine and feminine within us all. We also spoke about the experience of queer women within paganism and druidry, minorities within minorities and for some, it was the first time they met other Lesbian druids.
In a Facebook comment conversation a few months ago, I talked about how during Gay Pride it was important to turn up the volume on our gayness. One Druid friend then replied that we are each like a musical band. Each part of us is important to the overall sound and sometimes one instrument gets to perform a solo. At the start of the OBOD Assembly, Philip (the Chosen Chief) invited people from different parts of the world to stand and be seen. In doing so, we could see each other. I saw more druids from Ireland that I hadn’t seen before and we were able to connect after. We could see where everyone were coming from, and the greater the diversity, the further the distance, or the more exotic, the more we collectively oohed and ahed. In meeting each other at the Gay Druids meeting, we queer druids were able to see other queer Druids and think “ah, wonderful, you’re like me”.